Chang Dai-Chien Essay, Research Paper
Chang Dai-Chien is known for his skill of imitating traditional Chinese historical artists. He borrowed techniques from the diversity of Chinese art. Upon my arrival at the gallery the atmosphere of ancient epoch created by the paintings presented at the art show impressed me very much. The atmosphere of a different era was utterly amazing considering the fact that Chang Dai-Chien was a modern painter.
The brush paintings, seen at the exhibition, were very interesting for several reasons, however the ones that appealed to me the most were symbolism and the imagery of the paintings. The importance of symbolism in Chinese Art is immense. It reveals and subsequently portrays cultural attitudes, conventions and events of a certain period of time, which makes the paintings not only the exquisite works of art but also a retrospective of history of China. Chang Dai-Chien was an acclaimed genius of his genre because he had an incredible ability to revive the atmosphere of the past. One painting that had a huge impact on me was Lofty Scholar Beneath the Pine (1982). It portrayed a man standing beneath the tree, contemplating. Even though it might sound like a very simple theme, the insight into its meaning brings about much more than can be said. The smoky clouds in the painting, the misty, dim peaks of the mountains set a mood of mystery; a scholar looking at the mountain peaks, at the beautiful pine tree adds a touch of enigma. The use of pastel tones of the clouds and mountains helps to support and reflect the symbolism of them, which can be interpreted as the mystery of the future and the unknown. Whilst the scholar may very well represent the quintessence of a human being trying to comprehend the essence of life. All of the Chang Dai-Chien s brush paintings comprise imagery that is quite symbolic, i.e. paintings such as White Pigeon Among White Leaves and Cloudy Waterfalls and Summer Mountains are visual portrayals of self-realization and life. This peculiar use of imagery reflects nuances of life, history as well as artist s perception of it. The imagery subtly suggests the overall effect of the painting, as if guiding a person through the visual labyrinth of colour, shape and form. Another very important aspect is the style in which the brush paintings were done. The splashes of colour blend into each other, becoming no more distinguishable one from the other, due to the interesting use of coloured ink and wash.
The other very important part of the exhibition was calligraphy. The simplicity of lines and the boldness of shapes in the manuscripts are vitally important. Because knowing the actual meaning of the words is not the key point of these artworks. They impress you without even comprehending Chinese language itself. The understanding of Chinese calligraphy comes through the understanding of visual symbols rather than written words. Which, in my opinion, makes calligraphy an abstract art in essence. We cannot consciously understand what is meant by words and yet we are able to feel and thus enjoy the artwork. This kind of art can be understood on a deeper, subconscious level. Calligraphy relies on distinct simplicity of form. Dai-Chien s calligraphy brings about visual eloquency of Chinese hyroglyphs, which is absolutely stunning in its simplicity.
Despite my little knowledge of Chinese traditional art, I enjoyed this exhibition very much. It broadened my understanding of Chinese art. And also it left me at awe of Chang Dai-Chien s artistic skill. Beyond controversy, he was, still is and will be a great master. The authenticity of paintings and the atmosphere of the past were truly astounding, as well as the beauty of his art.